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January 9, 2008

Our Man In New Hampshire #7: The Chelsea Factor

This is the seventh in a 72-hour series of campaign dispatches from photojournalist and BNN Contributer Alan Chin, with an extra dose of post-election analysis by The BAG.

(Click any image to expand)

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Alan Chin filed two sets of Clinton photos with BAGnewsNotes leading up to last night’s New Hampshire primary.

Interestingly, one group was from the first day, and the other, from the last day of the campaign.  I understand that there are advantages and disadvantages in looking at these with the results already in, so please excuse the Monday (or Wednesday) morning quarterbacking.

If one can use the Chin pictures as a representative sample, there are a couple deductions to be drawn.  First and foremost, as compared to any of the other candidates, it seems the Clinton campaign maintains very tight control over access.  About half the supply Alan captured offered a vantage similar to the one above.

What I was most interested in thinking out, however, given Alan’s set, was what happened between last Saturday, after the Clinton campaign had been battered in Iowa, and this Monday, the day before Hillary’s poll-trashing New Hampshire rise from the ashes.

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Based on the material on hand (which included no emotional roundtable discussions nor any mid-debate depiction of hurt feelings), I would have to say that the difference — over and between those two days — was primarily familial.

In addition to the sign-toting women at Saturday’s sparsely attended campaign rally at the Nashua airport, Bill Clinton was a primary presence.  (I elaborated on the problematic nature of this — just like much of the media did — way back on Friday at The BAG.)  Peculiarly, Alan’s sequence catches Bubba in the pose of a field general, as if reprising his charge to the bridge to the 21st Century.

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In comparison, Alan’s best image from election eve day was the shot above from a rally for canvassers in a Manchester parking lot.  (Bill, by the way, was not in attendance.)

When you include the woman pushing out the platform, the image provides the sense that the campaign is now totally infused with girl power.  More significantly though, we see Chelsea  — like a beacon — visually aligned with that platform.

If Alan Chin, rather than moving on to the Edwards campaign, had continued to follow Clinton that day, I’m convinced we would have an elegant and larger body of evidence that Chelsea, rather than Bill, had become the campaign’s new inspiration (not to mention, its co-star).

Falling back on the visual media, however, you might check out this image which I set aside on Saturday, thinking it not only captured a powerful solidarity between mother and daughter, but between mother, daughter and the spirited representative of a key demographic.

Skipping to first thing Monday morning, look at this shot from a NYT Hillary Road Show (taking note of the announcement-like caption).  Also, consider the expansive gesture in this Reuters photo from the same event Alan photographed above; and also this shot after the event which the NYT chose for its “Final Push” slide show.

The defining image, however, has got to be this one from Monday evening’s final campaign event, revealing a tearful candidate simultaneously celebrating her own voice and the family circle’s new secret weapon.

Last Up: Election Night At Obama Central

((All images © Alan Chin.  Concord, New Hampshire.  January 5, 2007  Used by permission.  linked images: Hillary/Chelsea canvassing:  Brian Snyder/Reuters. Manchester, New Hampshire January 6,2008.  Hillary/Chelsea with college student: Elise Amendola/A.P. Clinton campaign bus. Durham, N.H., January 5, 2008.)

  • jonst

    I sense of a quality of ‘dogs walks into bar and begins speaking’ in your coverage of the Clinton’s. They do what a lot of people, in NH, anyway, seemed to think were normal things to do. Daily, normal, reactions…..that you somehow come off as amazed they are capable of doing. Personally, this is the worst run of posts I’ve seen you do.

  • margaret

    I disagree with “jonst.” I read this as a desperate move: Bill ain’t “working” as a mojo for Hillary, so she plays the feminist card….I say that as a woman and, by extension, a feminist. Hillary is a user. Whatever it takes…….
    I want a woman to be President, but I don’t want an extension of Bill Clinton. I don’t want a Margaret Thatcher-esque conservative. I’d like to see this country elect a woman because she has accomplished something in her own right, by her own steam, not riding on her husband’s or her daughter’s coattails. Hillary hasn’t proven she has what I want in a woman or male candidate.

  • marie

    My first reaction is to note that I find myself excited to see what we might see of Chelsea in the years ahead.
    I’m not even a HRC fan, but I love seeing Hillary with her daughter. It taps into all the powerful mother and daughter energy that I see in my own life plus some feel-good ideal of that relationship as well. I could see how Chelsea’s presence could help bring in youthful attention. Also, I notice how Hillary seems to be able to be more relaxed (softened?) and somehow more herself as a woman (maybe??) with her daughter, whereas she does not have that liberty to show that side of herself in the average campaign situation. With ones children, it’s permissible, even encouraged. If HRC is using her daughter, Chelsea seems willing. Not sure why this should be any different than any other politician playing up their family connections. Reminds me of my own family with its cadre of strong and personable women (with the men in orbit, not center-stage). Hil’s holding her own, Bill’s in orbit; I don’t see that as a bad thing for Hil.

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com The BAG

    jonst,
    Maybe ’nuff said about New Hampshire, but I was wondering if your reaction was exclusive to the Clintons, or to all the candidates in the series? Given the site’s perhaps overly long-running love affair with experimentation, it seemed to me I was trying different things with each post in terms of framing the images.
    As a note overall, I was pleased to take a flier at doing a series. Although it occupied a lot of real estate (and, admittedly, clipped by at a pace that made it near-impossible to delve into particular images — perhaps also the result of too much political story line), I was happy to have access to Alan’s pics (and, vicariously, to his adrenaline), to have the window on the campaign, to play editor, and to work the deadline. As always, though — The BAG being the visual experiment/laboratory it is — I encourage any and all (anytime) to help mitigate the vacuum and send me feedback.

  • Cactus

    This isn’t specifically about Alan’s photos, but I must say that I’m impressed by Chelsea and her appearances with her mother. Whatever their marriage is like, whatever one says about Hill and Bill individually, they can’t be all bad and still raise a daughter like Chelsea. One only has to compare the current occupant of 1600 and his bimbo party girls.
    Also, there is something to be said for the apparent fact that, even after all the Clintons went through in office, and knowing it will most likely not stop if Hillary is elected, Chelsea is still actively assisting Hillary in her campaign.
    As to the ‘upset’ in the primary results, I don’t know if there was any hanky-panky with the electronic machines, although Brad Friedman makes a believable case. I tend to think there is something to the tweety effect digby mentions. Sometimes a lot of women can get very upset at the blatant misogyny of the male talking heads on TV.

  • jonst

    Bag,
    No, my reaction was exclusive to the Clinton’s. It seemed to me, in this narrow case, anyway, the MSM framed the narrative, and people followed after that. Including you. All the “did she or did she not”…”were they real, or were they not” is simple bullshit to me. Sort of a Proust like quality. Covering every single movement/word/look the woman offers. We move further and further and further, away, as a society, from covering issues. But you are correct…the BAG is a visual experiment, and perhaps I misdirecting my disappointment/disgust.
    Margaret,
    That you could actually write the words “whatever it takes”, indicating what Hillary would do to win the election, at a time when America is, given daily, lessons from people who REALLY will do “whatever it takes” to bully, badger, scare the people of the nation into surrendering their freedom. People who did what it takes to rig an election in 2000, and again, in 2004, that you equate the Clinton’s, with all their faults, defects, and foibles,(and they are too numerous to count) with BushCo (and drape yourself in the mantle of feminism, at the same time) tells me all I need, or want, to know about you.

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